Why We Can’t Remember Memories From Early Childhood
Most people have little recollections of their childhood. The memories we do have from a young age are frequently developed from images we have seen or stories others have told us. “Childhood amnesia,” or the phenomena in which individuals retain relatively few memories before the age of seven, is a phenomenon that scientists and psychologists have yet to fully explain.
A frequent misconception is that newborns and early children lack the cognitive capacity to develop and maintain memories. This does not make sense, however, when we consider how much learning occurs in the early years. Babies learn to walk, talk, and navigate the world, which necessitates the formation and storage of memories.
The relationship between language and memory
Language is one aspect that influences whether or not we recall things from our childhood. Children learn spoken language between the ages of one and six, and this information is retained for the remainder of their lives, which is unusual when compared to the “childhood amnesia” phase that occurs at the same time. According to studies, toddlers over the age of two who could talk about an incident recalled it up to five years later, but toddlers under the age of two who couldn’t communicate about the experience remembered significantly less or nothing at all. This shows that there is a substantial link between language and memory retention and that memories acquired without being verbalized are far less likely to be recalled.
The hippocampal formation
However, distinct areas of the brain are connected with memory creation and storage, and the growth of certain parts of the brain enhances memory ability. The hippocampus is thought to be the region of the brain responsible for memory storage, and it does not fully develop until the age of seven or later.
This does not imply that humans have no memories before the age of seven since it is believed that our brains begin modifying the way we retain memories at the age of three and a half, making actual recollections before this age implausible. Teenagers have more childhood memories than adults, implying that the inability to recall early childhood has less to do with memory generation and more to do with memory storage.
Memories that are “false”
Another way language influences memories is that, as previously said, early childhood memories are frequently not memories at all, but rather are created by narratives of events related to us by others. When adults tell or read to children, they acquire narrative skills such as what elements of a tale are significant and how to arrange story-telling understandably.
Influence of culture
What we recall is frequently impacted by culture as well. This is attributable to a multitude of factors, including emotional ties to memory and the frequency with which the memory is addressed or reinforced. Varying cultures place different emphasis on different topics, therefore memories of some experiences will be stronger for a youngster from one culture than for a child from another. Due to cultural beliefs stressing individual vs communal work and successes, an American kid may recall getting an award at school at a young age, but a Chinese child may recall a class activity at a young age.
“Childhood amnesia” is still not fully understood, but experts are continuing to perform studies and learn more about this phenomenon. Advances in neuroscience and technology are also assisting us in learning more about what creates this gap in memory at such a young age. As we learn more, keep in mind that even if we don’t recall events from our childhood, they still have an impact on our brains and actions as adults. Despite the lack of memories, early infancy is nevertheless a critical time in shaping who we become as adults.